VIENNA — OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, today expressed concern regarding reports that Armenia’s Special Investigative Service launched a criminal case against Kristine Khanumian, editor of Ilur.am news portal, on charges of deliberate failure to comply with a court order.

The report implicated the then police chief of Armenia’s Shirak province in a violent attack on two young men. The Special Investigative Service (SIS) ordered Ilur.am as well as the independent newspaper “Hraparak” to disclose their anonymous sources, saying that is necessary for solving the case.

Both publications refused to comply with the order backed by Armenian courts. Earlier this week, Khanumian was formally charged under an article of the Armenian Criminal Code carrying heavy fines and up to two years in prison.

“Members of the media should not be held liable for publishing or disseminating information of public interest,” Mijatovic wrote in a letter today to Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian. “Unless information is legitimately classified as secret on the grounds of precisely defined national security concerns or protection of other overriding interests, the state should ensure full protection against any legal or administrative sanctions related to disclosure of the identity of journalists’ sources.

“This principle is one of the basic requirements for the existence of independent journalism and free media,” Mijatovic said.

Mijatovic expressed hope that law enforcement authorities would dismiss the case against Khanumian.

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